F3

AUSF3: Eastern Creek qualifying report

CARATTI TAKES CENTENNIAL F3 POLE AT THE CREEK Dominating day for Caratti as Kumho Tyres Australian F3 closes on 100 races Aaron Caratti today emphasised that he is the driver to beat in this year's Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship,...

CARATTI TAKES CENTENNIAL F3 POLE AT THE CREEK
Dominating day for Caratti as Kumho Tyres Australian F3 closes on 100 races

Aaron Caratti today emphasised that he is the driver to beat in this year's Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship, dominating proceedings in both qualifying at a bright and sunny Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney to add two more points to his already commanding series lead.

Caratti's pole for the opening race set a new benchmark for the 3.9 circuit Eastern Creek circuit - scoring the top slot with a scintillating 1m23.8408 time and using just six laps to secure the position. The Insight F3 team driver backed up his performance with a solid 1m24.5034 in the second session, taking the pole by over six tenths of a second in what was a commanding performance.

"It's great to be able to extend my championship lead by another two points," he said after the second session. "We were able to conserve our tyres in the first session by only doing six laps, and although we didn't go faster in the second session we were still able to get pole by a good margin."

Caratti's direct championship rivals were left scratching their heads as to how to get closer to their flying rival, Team BRMs Michael Trimble and Protecnica's Chris Alajajian each taking a second and third place grid position in the two races respectively.

In the lead up to their 100th race, Trimble's team BRM crew made significant overnight changes to their car to haul the 20 year old Victorian up the order in today's two sessions, the driver particularly happy to jump Alajajian in second qualifying today.

"Being on the front row is better than being third or worse," mused Trimble. "At least in the second race I'll have a chance to get the jump on Caratti and try and get in front and hold him off for the race. The boys have made a heap of changes to the car overnight and it's a lot better today but we are still too far behind Caratti."

Alajajian was slightly happier than Trimble, the Protecnica team continuing their Formula 3 orientation with a stronger qualifying performance -- showing that the long time Production car contenders have more than enough nous to operate a strong F3 campaign.

"Reasonably Happy," was Alajajian's summation of the day. "We had hoped to be closer to the leading pace, but to have a second and a third for tomorrow's races is a good start. We'll have to aim to get in behind the leader and size him up as the race goes on."

Impressive performances came from competitors sightly behind the leading trio of Gold Star contenders, a number of drivers staking their claim on an improved performance in Sydney this weekend.

Returning driver Matt Sofi took his Dallara F301 to a pair of solid fifth place results in the today's sessions, Sofi's best of a 1m27.3 coming in the second session to place the former karter within striking distance of the man he considers his direct rival for the weekend: Queenslander Chris Gilmour.

"I guess you can say we are chasing Chris because it's like comparing apples to apples -- we both have the same model cars, and they both just happen to be red!" He enthused. "Seriously though, we are pretty happy with the results for today considering we haven't run the car since the Grand Prix. Im really looking forward to racing tomorrow."

Carrera Cup Contender Stephen Borness will line up alongside Sofi in both of tomorrow's races, a pair of sixth place scores a strong return for the driver considering this weekend marks his first start in a Formula 3 car. Piccola Scuderia team-mate Cody Liebel had his best qualifying performance of the season, a pair of sevenths a strong showing by the Canadian driver.

Graeme Holmes shaved nearly four seconds out of his previous best times around Eastern Creek to take the pole in the Kumho Tyres Australian Trophy Class competition, leading Rod Anderson and Bill Maddocks in both sessions to set up a close battle for the Trophy Class battle tomorrow.

This weekend's fifth round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship marks a historic point in the championship's history, the series set to notch up its 100th championship race start when the field fronts for the second of tomorrow's 13 lap encounters.

Tomorrow's two races are scheduled for 11:45 AM and 15:00PM respectively.

<pre> Qualifying times:

Qualifying one : 1. Aaron Caratti Insight F3 1m23.8408 2. Chris Alajajian Protecnica Racing +0.3629 3. Michael Trimble Team BRM +0.3796 4. Chris Gilmour Gilmour Racing +1.6031 5. Matt Sofi Benchmark Motorsport +2.0075

Qualifying two : 1. Aaron Caratti Insight F3 1m24.5034 2. Michael Trimble Team BRM +0.6331 3. Chris Alajajian Protecnica Racing +0.6994 4. Chris Gilmour Gilmour Racing +1.7084 5. Matt Sofi Benchmark Motorsport +2.8258

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About this article
Series F3
Drivers Stephen Borness , Chris Alajajian , Aaron Caratti , Chris Gilmour , Graeme Holmes